Thrifty Thursday: My All-Time Favorite Disney Ride: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

I am a Disney thrill-seeker, no doubt about it. I love the Rock N Rollercoaster, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Expedition Everest, Space Mountain; all the great rides. But the ride that gives me the biggest thrill at Walt Disney World, and is thus my hands-down favorite, is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.

The first thing I do upon entering Disney’s Hollywood Studios is walk straight ahead to Sunset Boulevard and make a sharp right turn heading to a 13-story structure known as the Tower of Terror. I check the wait clock to see whether I am going to get a fast pass or just wait in line. In most cases, I will get a fast pass for The Rock N Rollercoaster and just wait in the Tower of Terror line.

The line twists and turns through an ungroomed, misty, eerie courtyard. While winding through the landscape, I love listening to people around me nervously discussing how apprehensive they are about the ride, and even whether or not they should be in line at all. All is calm for a few minutes but then, without warning, the doors several stories up open and all I can hear is screaming before the riders take their next drop! It sounds like the riders are terrified, adding to the sinister chuckle I get listening to the unsuspecting new riders around me. I would guess, though, that if someone interviewed these newbies on their way out of the ride, they would say that they thought it was awesome!

As I get closer and closer to going inside the “hotel,” I get more and more excited. After queuing through the dusty lobby of the old Hollywood Tower Hotel, I am directed into the library for the pre-show, which is a short film hosted by Rod Serling, creator of the old Twilight Zone television series. In the momentary darkness, I start to feel the adrenalin pumping while I am then guided into the Hotel’s boiler room.

Once the doors open to the boiler room, the butterflies start flying. I have been on this ride probably 50 times or more, but every time I ride it the butterflies show up. I think that is part of the fun!

The cast member, dressed in a vintage bellhop costume, taunts everyone by thanking us for “dropping in.” I am then directed to my appropriate row and seat number which is painted on the floor in front of the place where the elevator will pick me up. Finally, our “freight elevator” arrives and I find my appropriate spot just as it was on the floor diagram and get into my seat and put on my seatbelt. Note: there used to be a bar and only one special seat had a seatbelt, but Disney added to the excitement by changing the safety mechanism for all seats to seatbelts only. I am ALL smiles at this point; high-fiving my kids and getting ready to go. I can’t wait until the doors close and we are off on what is my all-time favorite ride.

We take off and as the elevator rises up, I am ready for the visual. The doors open again as the “freight elevator” glides through mysterious hotel passageways showing us ghostly images of former guests. Then, the elevator enters the shaft. It is pitch black and chilly. Then I feel it…our elevator is locked into place. Here we go!

There is a 130-foot free-fall drop and then it shoots quickly up, then down, then up; plummeting again and again in random drop sequences. When the doors open, I smile and get ready for the camera flash, look out over the park, then laugh at all the people with me as we are all screaming our lungs out but thoroughly enjoying the experience. Once we are back on the ground and the ride is over, I think to myself, this is what I have been waiting for all year and I am grateful to be back! I hope you will drop in on this baby during your next trip!

Brenda is a native Texan born and raised on the Gulf Coast. She visited Disney World twice as a teenager and always dreamed of growing her family Disney. She took her first-timer husband and their three children to Disney World in 2000 and they now spend every Thanksgiving there. Brenda writes with a comedic twist on various Disney topics. She will be sharing tips she has learned during her travels and also hopes to enlighten people on little-known freebies that Disney has to offer. She wishes she could have met Walt Disney and considers herself to be a student of Walt. In parallel to his dream it is her wish that everyone would take at least one trip to Disney World in order to share in its magic with their families.

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5 Responses to Thrifty Thursday: My All-Time Favorite Disney Ride: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

  1. David says:


    As soon as my son saw this he screamed! ToT is one of his favorites!

    I love going at night when the mist is on!

  2. Beth says:

    You are so brave! I would love one day to get the courage to try it out, but I am a complete thrill ride wimp! I don’t want my kids to see me afraid of rides because I don’t want them to make their decision to try them based on what they see from me. So I did brave Rock N Roller Coaster for the first time last trip simply because they were sitting right there when my husband asked if I were going to try it out (I just wrote an article about it 2 weeks ago). How could I say no when the three of them were wondering why I wouldn’t? Oh well, the things I do for my kids. Great article!

  3. Brenda says:

    Hi guys and thanks for reading.
    David – I know just how he feels and you are right on about the thrill of the nighttime ride!!

    Beth – That is what a good mom does. Keep on keeping on. If they saw your comment, the three of them might approach you about riding TOT next time so be prepared!

    Have a great day!

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